3 women file lawsuit after June balcony collapse in Berkeley

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Alvin Wu/File

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Three women filed a lawsuit last month in connection with the collapse of a balcony last June that killed six and injured seven others.

Caroline Conlan, Cliodhna Maloney and Aisling Tallon joined 13 victims and their families in suing the builders, owners and managers of the Library Gardens apartment complex. The three had rented the fourth-floor unit connected to the balcony that collapsed.

They allege that the property owners, managers and subcontractors displayed “negligence and carelessness” by ignoring signs of structural damage that made the balcony unsafe for human habitation.

According to the lawsuit, the three roommates stepped off the balcony and into the fourth-floor apartment moments before the balcony broke away from the building.

The lawsuit alleges that the three suffered severe emotional and mental harm after having looked “down in horror at the heap of bodies and rotted balcony lying on the ground 40 feet below.”

Conlan, Maloney and Tallon’s decision to sue came about two weeks before the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office concluded its investigation of the collapse. The office announced last month that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal manslaughter charges against any one party.

The office, however, added in a statement that the balcony had collapsed because water had been trapped in the balcony deck during construction and alleges that many of the parties involved in the construction or maintenance of the building are likely responsible for the incident.

The three plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that the contractors and subcontractors hired to construct the building failed to waterproof the balcony on the apartment they rented for several months after the balcony had been framed.

As for the property owners and managers, the lawsuit alleges that they were aware of the balcony’s internal wood rot and also “purposefully and willfully refused and failed to perform appropriate safety inspections.”

The plaintiffs are seeking punitive and exemplary damages as well as compensation for the emotional distress caused by the incident.

Ishaan Srivastava is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @ishaansriv.